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Monday, December 12, 2011
Simeon's Smith ponders college job

By Scott Powers

Robert Smith
Robert Smith said if he left Simeon, it would have to be for college head coaching job.
Nationally top-ranked Simeon could have more than its players looking to make a jump to the next level.

Simeon coach Robert Smith said Monday he would consider leaving the Wolverines if he were offered the right college head coaching position after the season.

Smith has distinguished himself as one of the state's all-time great coaches in just eight seasons. He has a 200-36 record, won four state championships and coached in five title state games. The Wolverines are currently undefeated and are ESPN's No. 1 team in the country.

"I've been thinking about it lately," Smith said. "It's been coming up a lot. I love Simeon, and I love coaching high school basketball. I love teaching young men. It would have to be the right job. I would have to be a head coach. It would have to be in the mid-major nature."

Smith said he's been frustrated with high school basketball as of late. One of the reasons is the IHSA lumped Chicago's top Class 4A teams in one sectional, allowing at most one Public League team to reach the state tournament. Smith was also displeased Simeon had a game moved from Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium to another location because of an NCAA rule.

"It's starting to wear on me," Smith said. "Every two weeks it's something else. I know on the college level they have different problems."

Smith was confident he could coach college basketball. He believed his team's successes at the high school level and his players' success at the college level helped prove that.

Smith coached Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose and a number of current college players, including Memphis' Stan Simpson, UCLA's Lazeric Jones and Kansas State's Jeremy Jones. Simeon junior Jabari Parker is considered the No. 1 player in the Class of 2013.

"I watch some of those guys all the time," Smith said of college coaches. "I think what they're doing is similar to what I'm doing just at a different level. We try to make this a college type of environment, so when they get to college they're ready to play."

Although Smith is not allowed to recruit in high school, he was sure he could get players to come play for him in college.

"Definitely, that wouldn't be a problem at all," Smith said.

It is uncommon for college coaches to be hired out of high school, but it has occurred. In 2010, Dan Hurley went from coaching St. Benedict's Prep in New Jersey for nine seasons to being Wagner College's head coach. Wagner had an eight-win improvement last season under Hurley and finished 13-17.